Algorithm changes happen overnight. Don’t get scared or unprepared. Instagram algorithm changes can be tricky: Sometimes the folks at Instagram reveal things on their blog and other times, not so much. Trying to game the Instagram algorithm could get you banned or booted off the platform. Strategizing to make the algorithm work for and with you is the name of the game. Each user’s engagement and strategy differs, but using a combination of the following tips and insights, your Instagram engagement can bounce back from any algorithm hits like a boss:
Engagement on Instagram Matters: To a Degree
Posts that have more engagement, such as likes, comments, views, and shares, tend to rank higher within the Instagram feed. However, engagement is only part of the equation in the Instagram algorithm of 2018. Instagram wants you to get the engagement in a more rapid capacity than you did in say, 2017. Yes, lots of engagement is good, but with the addition of trending and popular hashtags and the ability to follow hashtags as you would follow a user, the speed in which that engagement comes is important.
Solution: Know when your best times to post on Instagram are happening. If you post during a time when your content is more likely to get engagement, this will help boost your posts in Instagram’s algorithm. From a personal standpoint, when I post, I also engage with my followers’ content and those who engaged with me. Saying things like, “hey, that’s cool” and “wow, nice pic” won’t get you very far these days on Instagram; in fact, those types of comments can be detrimental to your strategy. These short quips are most likely coming from a bot. Instagram has noticed, and is putting an end to these automated responses.
Instagram Stories are Dominating
We’ve been writing about it for at least a year, and our predictions have come to fruition: Instagram Stories are dominating social media, perhaps more so than the regular Instagram feed. Instagram users are spending time on Instagram Stories, rather than their feeds, since the present IG algorithm is ever so uncertain. The more that a user interacts with your Instagram Stories, the more likely your posts will show up in their feed. Use the swipe up option in IG Stories with a link (for over 10K followers) and the polling feature.
Solution: If you don’t have 10K Instagram followers, here’s a hack: Do an Instagram Story and in the last slide, tell folks to click the link in your profile or bio. Infuse GIFs and hashtags onto the story itself! Learn to be creative in Instagram Stories. Grab some inspiration here:
Time Spent Viewing Posts Matters Big Time
Just as the Facebook algorithm looks at how much time you spend engaging with content, Instagram is the same way. One of the main factors that the 2018 Instagram algorithm uses to keep your post boosted is that of time spent viewing. This is why videos often perform well when done right… people need to watch them. The longer someone sees your content, the better; the more they engage with it, even better; the faster they do it, you are on a rocket ship!
Solution: Create quality content with stellar captions. If you have an engaging caption on Instagram, people are more likely to want to read it, stick around, and click the more…button to read the entire caption in your post. This does not mean that you should type characters for the sake of filling space. Wordsmiths and creative warriors out there, rejoice: The power of the written word dominates!
Like Begets Like
If engagement was the main thing the new Instagram algorithm cared about, everything within our feeds would be the same thing over and over and over. The type of content with which you engage also matters. So if you are a dog blogger but you also engage with recipe posts, Instagram will populate your feed with similar content. You tell the algorithm you like chicken recipes, for example, because you look at them, even search for them, maybe use hashtags to find those recipes. The IG algorithm will show you content it feels you will find interesting.
Solution: Train your Instagram algorithm by searching for and engaging with content, hashtags, and accounts you genuinely care about. That can also mean your competition shows up in your feed, but at least you are keeping an eye on their feed!
Hashtag Happy or Not?
Hashtags are good. Don’t let the hubbub of hashtag rumors on Instagram get you down. Tread cautiously, but do use hashtags with a purpose. Now that users can follow hashtags in the same manner they can follow users, your content has the potential to show up in thousands if not millions of feeds! Consider the hashtag #catsofig as an example. If your photo is awesome, the caption is creative and engaging enough to keep followers reading, and you add the #catsofig hashtag to it, a ton of new followers are potentially at your fingertips. However, if your users feel they don’t want to see your content or you put something unrelated to cats with the #catsofig hashtag, they can mark the content as something they do not want to see in their feed.
Solution: Change up your hashtag blocks, ensuring each hashtag is a good fit for its respective post. Copy and paste over and over is not the way to go.
For years, I’ve been telling folks to put the social in social media. This has never been more true as it pertains to the Instagram algorithm of 2018. It’s time to talk to your followers, engage with them, respond to their comments on your content, and then go over to their content and talk to them. This matters whether you are a huge brand or a just-getting-started microinfluencer. Reflect on how the content you are about to post contributes to you as a brand and what exactly you are saying to your audience.
Solution: Build an Instagram editorial calendar. I update mine weekly. All those natural posts are often planned. Not everything is off the cuff, but sometimes it is.
Bask in the Fun for Engagement: New Tools Rule
If you use the tools that Instagram rolls out, its algorithm is likely to favor your content. It makes sense: They are rewarding you for being a good Instagrammer. Personally, I love using the GIF feature, the polling option, and all the fun geostickers and hashtag stickers on Instagram Stories.
Solution: Try different strategies. I try different hashtag stickers in my IG Stories and I see what works best. I love to have fun and find IG Stories to be incredibly addictive. If you are unfamiliar with Instagram Stories, try these different tools and tips.
Hack: Follow your favorite accounts and get involved with their Instagram Stories. Sometimes seeing how others do it right can inspire you to craft a strategy of your own with their inspiration!
Have A Strong Visual Brand
Now more than ever, having a style and presence distinctive to your brand is important. Can your followers distinguish your content on Instagram from others? Maybe you have certain colors, features, or visual attributes?
Solution: Here’s how to create a branding strategy for your pet blog which then transcends over to your social media.
Learn from the Pros
At this year’s BlogPaws Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, a very powerful Instagram panel is happening. Attendees will learn how to use Instagram stories to boost engagement and connect with your audience. You will learn how to maximize the tools available to you including photos, videos, boomerangs, and more. We’ll dive into how to use locations, hashtags, tags, and polls can help boost engagement. Tori, Meesha, Hannah and Marika have a combined following of over 200K! Who are these pros and how can you get involved?
Carol Bryant is the Marketing and Social Media Manager for BlogPaws and runs her own blog, Fidose of Reality and its fundraising arm, Wigglebutt Warriors. When not busy playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, she stays far away from cooking. Her trademark is her mantra and is tattooed on her arm: My Heart Beats Dog.®
Images: Lipik Stock Media / Shutterstock.com